Dolcetto is a red wine grape varietal widely grown in the Piedmont region of north-west Italy. The Italian word 'Dolcetto' translates to 'little sweet one', it is not certain if the name originally has any reference to the grape's sugar levels: it is possible that it derives from the name of the surrounding hills where the vine is grown, either way - the wines produced are generally made in a dry style. They can be tannic and fruit driven with moderate, or decidedly low, levels of acidity and are typically crafted to be enjoyed one to two years after release.
The top wineries produce Dolcetto on less favoured sites - as an 'early drinking style wine' to generate some income for the winery while the Nebbiolo and Barbera wines are being maturing and ageing in the wineries cellars.


Dolcetto is particularly associated with the towns of Dogliani and Diano d'Alba in the province of Cuneo, although the greatest volumes come from around the town of Alba. All but one of the 100% Dolcetto DOC's have two levels, the 'standard' version typically requiring a minimum 11.5% Alc./vol, and the 'Superiore' 12.5% Alc./vol.
Dolcetto di Dogliani and Dolcetto di Dogliani Superiore are Italian red wines produced in the Langhe using only the Dolcetto grape varietal, recognized as DOC since 1974. In 2005 the original DOC for Dolcetto di Dogliani Superiore was replaced by DOCG; this wine which can also be sold under the name Dogliano, is made within a more limited zone than the DOC and the yield of grapes is restricted to 7 tonnes per hectare, also to qualify for the DOCG status the wines must be aged for at least one year before release.
Dolcetto wines are known for black cherry and liquorice flavours and a slight nutty character reminiscent of hazelnuts. While the name implies sweetness, the wines are traditionally dry. The dark purple skin of Dolcetto grapes have high amounts of anthocyanins in them which require only a short maceration time with the skin to produce a dark coloured wine. Remember Dolcetto wines are generally not made to age, so ideal for early enjoyment.